Community members gathered to celebrate legacy of contributors
April 4, 2019
There is a running joke in the Bannan family: you can go to college anywhere you want, but your parents will pay for your tuition at Santa Clara.
The lineage of the Bannan family runs deep at the university. For 100 years, over 150 Bannans—brothers and sisters, husbands and wives—have attended Santa Clara.
On March 23, the university and the Alumni Association held the ceremony of the Donohoe Alumni House, unveiling the newly named building—the Bannan Alumni House.
“We knew the university would tear down the aging Bannan buildings when they announced the building of the Sobrato Campus for Discovery and Innovation,” Patti Bannan Pascale said. “But the Bannan family has a long history in Santa Clara. It’s important to remember the family’s influence on Santa Clara.”
The Bannan family committed major contributions to the School of Engineering of Santa Clara.
They donated the Bannan Engineering Labs, the Bannan Hall and Thomas J. Bannan Engineering Building.
The Bannan family traces its engineering background to Patrick Bannan, an Irish immigrant and locomotive engineer. His son, Philip Bannan, bought a mechanic shop called Pacific Gear and Tool Works.
The company eventually merged with Western Gear, an engineering company that built mechanical parts for fighter jets, tanks and space shuttles.
Five of Philip’s six sons attended Santa Clara, following in their father’s footsteps to become engineers.
That left Louis I. Bannan as the exception: he became a Jesuit priest and joined Santa Clara as a professor in psychology and philosophy. The Bannan family called him “Uncle Lou,” and among the university community, he was known as “Father Lou.”
The Alumni House was renamed in special honor of Lou Bannan, S.J., who passed away in 1998. As the assistant to the president for alumni affairs, Lou Bannan, S.J., believed alumni relations were the heart and soul of Santa Clara.
“One common theme that binds us is the Santa Clara family,” President Michael Engh, S.J. said. “This building continues to be a setting that reflects Lou Bannan, S.J.’s value of cherishing life long relationships.”
And for Patti Bannan Pascale, the niece of Lou Bannan, S.J., the Bannan Alumni House is a touchstone of her great-uncle’s spirit.
“Sometimes he would call you into his office in the Alumni House,” Patti Bannan Pascale said. “He would say, ‘I see you around and you are just not looking as happy as you normally do. Is everything okay?’”
The Alumni House was originally built as an infirmary. When the infirmary moved to the Cowell Health Center, Lou Bannan, S.J., successfully lobbied the university to move the alumni office from Varsi Hall to the Alumni House in 1975.
“The alumni, students and all our public should know that we are not a second-rate agency,” Lou Bannan, S.J., wrote. “Obviously, this is a great factor to enhance loyalty and communications, as well as income. This is clearly a great investment in the future.”
It was this sense of loyalty, a profound sentiment for Santa Clara that defines the many generations of Bannan family members who have come and gone as students of the university.
“It is a place of formation, a place where we find the love of our lives,” Patrick Nally, a fourth-generation Bannan, said. “A place that gives you an elbow in the mid section from time to time, a place where we become men and women with conscience, competence and compassion.”
Contact Nicholas Chan at email@example.com or call (408) 554-4852.